Author Archive for: ‘suzanneangeo’
Reviewed by Suzanne and Greg Angeo
Members, San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle (SFBATCC)
Photos by Eric Chazankin
The past is never dead. It’s not even past.
— From “Requiem for a Nun”, Act I, Scene III, by William Faulkner
Local playwright/wunderkind Dezi Gallegos was certainly off to a good start in his career. He knew even before he could write that he wanted to tell stories. And by his early teens he had accomplished what many writers can only dream of: he co-wrote an award-winning play that was published and performed off-Broadway, “Prop 8 Love Stories”. He’s perhaps best known to Sonoma County theatregoers for yet another award-winning original work, “Hamlet’s Orphans”, which he wrote while still in high school. For this, he received the inaugural Annette Lust Award for Potential and Promise in Theatre at this year’s SFBATCC Awards Gala.
Now 19 and a student at the University of Southern California studying film and TV production, he’s back at it with his latest, “Yesterday Again”. It’s a haunting, bittersweet love story with a brilliantly unique concept. This new effort has a “mini-rolling” world premiere at 6th Street Playhouse’s Studio Theater in Santa Rosa, rolling on to finish its run at the Lucky Penny Community Arts Center in Napa.Director Sheri Lee Miller (with a commendable assist from Gallegos and stage manager/co-producer Natalie Herman) makes good use of the vignettes that are so integral to the story. It centers on Eric and Bella, close childhood friends who lose touch with each other as very young teens after things get too hot and heavy between them and their parents find out. Circumstances lead them down separate but strangely parallel paths. The set by Vincent Mothersbaugh is divided into four distinct time capsules, with different actors representing each character as their past, present and future selves. Some of these temporal zones have the actors performing simultaneously in all three of the characters’ life stages, an interesting effect. And there’s a phantom in their midst, but we don’t know it until the very end – a very tasty red herring.
Lucy London and Jack Wolff play the tween-aged Bella and Eric with great charm and poignancy. Their college-age selves are capably portrayed by Olivia Marie Rooney and Isaac Jay. As the mature Eric, 6th Street’s Artistic Director Craig Miller offers a touching, earnest performance. He’s joined by Alyssa Jirrels, noteworthy as Jamie, a young student he’s tutoring. Sharia Pierce is superb, displaying the bitter disappointment of Bella’s later years. John Browning gives a strong performance as Bella’s slightly creepy husband Mark. Barry Martin, co-founder of Lucky Penny Productions, delivers a vivid, heartbreaking Rick, her ultra-conservative and overbearing father, in sharp contrast to her weak and timid mother Lisa, played by Pam Koppel.
“Yesterday Again” is ambitious, with a complex story and characters dealing with very mature subject matter. It also has a lot to say. Like, the best of intentions can have bad consequences. Or, you don’t always know how important you are to someone until it’s too late. It also asks important questions: Are we predestined to keep making the same mistakes throughout our lives? Are we at the mercy of unconscious choices we make based on past experiences, or can we take control and change our direction?The show has good bones, with just a few ragged holes in the storytelling itself (unclear choices and motives, under-developed characters, uneven transitions). It occasionally wanders into soap opera territory but finds its way out again, sometimes with extraordinary results. It also was under-rehearsed in its opening weekend and remains a work in progress, but a little polish will make this diamond-in-the-rough a real gem.
When: Now through August 2 (6th Street) & August 16 (Lucky Penny)
8:00 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2:00 p.m. Sundays
Tickets: $15 to $25
Locations: Studio Theater at 6th Street Playhouse (through August 2)
52 West 6th Street, Santa Rosa CA
Lucky Penny Community Arts Center (August 7 – 16)
1758 Industrial Way, Suites 204-209